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Parent-Teacher Conference Prep

These tips and questions will help you make the most of your parent-teacher conference.

By GreatSchools Staff

Before the Conference

1. Make an appointment.

2. Ask your child:

  • What do you like best about school?
  • Is there anything you're having trouble with at school?

3. Make a list.

  • Think of just a few important things to ask or share with the teacher.

During the Conference

1. Listen carefully.

  • This is your chance to find out how your child is doing.
  • Try to understand the teacher's point of view.

2. Ask questions.

Here are some sample questions: How is my child doing in class?

  • How is my child doing in reading?
  • How is my child doing in math?
  • What are his best subjects?
  • Are there areas where he needs extra help?

What should I know about homework?

  • How much time should my child spend on homework?
  • When should homework get turned in?
  • What can I do at home to help?

What if my child is behind?

  • How can you help my child in areas that are hard for her?
  • Are there programs at school that can help?
  • What activities can I do at home to help?

What if my child is ahead?

  • Is my child getting enough challenging work?
  • Does the school have a program for gifted students?
  • How can I get my child tested for it?

How is my child doing in general?

  • Does my child get along with the other children?
  • Does my child participate in class activities?
  • How is my child behaving?

How can we stay in touch?

  • When is a good time to talk with you if I have questions?
  • How can I keep track of how my child is doing?

3. Share.

  • Help the teacher get to know your child better.
  • If the teacher is having trouble, share ideas that have worked in the past.

After the Conference

  • Talk to your child.
  • Try the home activities the teacher suggested.
  • Follow up with the teacher to make sure your child is getting support.
  • Make sure the teacher knows how to reach you.
  • Ask for updates.

Comments from readers

"thank you for the best help i found that if just talk to my child that she would work out her plroblems becouse the last teacher confrence she has change really good she is palite and not rude thank for your help teachers "
"Thank you so much for the news update, it really is a BIG HELP understanding and comparing other school systems in Chicago. "
"All great advice. Just one additional thought in case you are at odds with your childs teacher, remember why you are both there. For your child."
"The Preschoolers Learning Method, will soon be on the market via the Internet. A paradigm shift will result from 'discovery' that the concept of reading readiness securely established from the outset will be abandoned. Credit goes to Ann Sullivan and Helen Keller who was blind, deaf and speechless, and whose condition was declared irreversible after the most respected physicians and other esteemed professionals abandoned Helen. Her parents sought assistance with their uncontrollable, destructive, tantrum throwing Helen. The recently graduated partly deaf Ann Sullivan was recommmended, and hired as a full time live-in tutor and companion for Helen, whose duties included controlling and helping Helen however way she could. The rest is history."
"TO 11/6/2006:You should get together with your Parent leaders and discuss the situation, find out if maybe the teacher has aproblem with the majority of the kids. Maybe is not your child, very often is the teacher that is not capable of doing her job. So find out if maybe other parents have the same situation. and then take it from there. "
"I am getting ready for parent/teacher conference next week and sad to say this won't be my 1st time speaking with the teacher. She seems to call me once a week with a problem. My son can be very active but at times I feel she is calling for very little stuff like him getting out of line and laughing. She out right told me on the phone one day she doesn't deal with behavior and she is only there to teach and maybe I should talk to the school counselor about positive behavior plans. One phone conversation we ended with the agreement that she would send me weekly updates home about how he was doing. That never happened. She only seems to call when there is a problem and never discussed how he is doing in class academically. Any suggestions on how to continue to deal with this teacher? I followed all the advice above. I feel that my son has been made the problem child of the class and everything is blamed on him."
"I personally felt I should be proactive my kindergartner is very active,and has to be kept active.i volunteer in his classroom once in a while.first sign of problems that interupt his learning.I spoke with his teacher,who seemed to be a little to busy to be reseptive.not her fault they have taken away her assistant in her classroom.Ispoke with school counselor between the three of us we came up with plan that is working great.teacher send me a note everyday on scale of 0-3 3 being an excellent day.he has been getting 3 for the last 5 days.I did not want to hear about problems at conference time.when we could be working on what ever we could before that."
"I find this article very helpful. What I would add is the idea of stressing the importance of regular interaction with the teachers. A periodic confrence with the teacher is fine, but what would be more beneficial would be for the teachers to use an interactive website such as Snapgrades to keep parents current on a weekly basis as to the teachers expectations and the students performance. This avoids an unhappy surprise of a poor grade at the end of a grading perior. It is a prevention approach rather than trying to address the problems after the fact."
"Thank you so much for putting my ideas into a coherant format."